How many cups of coffee equal your morning coffee in the commonly repeated statement: I cant function without my morning cup of coffee? For many Americans, the day starts with a quick switch of the coffee machine or the drive-thru run at Starbucks. But the caffeine fix doesnt end there: as the affects wear off from your morning caffeine, you can start to feel lethargic, irritable and, in some cases, depressed. As a result of these negative effects, you turn towards more caffeine-induced substances like colas, energy drinks, or even more coffee to get you going again. While many health studies suggest caffeine consumption, particularly in coffee, can lead to health benefits, the debate continues on the concrete effects of caffeine.
Adenosine is an important factor in the process of energy transfer and promotes sleep or a decrease in arousal. According to Discovery Health, the binding of adenosine to adenosine receptors causes drowsiness by slowing down nerve cell activity. Caffeine closely mimics adenosine in appearance to a nerve cell, and therefore, caffeine binds to the adenosine receptor instead of an adenosine. The only difference between the two is caffeine speeds up the nerve cells activity instead of slowing it down. As a result, the pituitary gland responds to the increased neuron firing by releasing hormones that tell the adrenal glands to make adrenaline. This hormone increases physical performance for a short period of time and is commonly referred to as the fight or flight hormone. Usually when adrenaline is pumping through your body, you can experience dilated pupils, faster heartbeat, rise of blood pressure, and your muscles tighten up, ready for action. Another hormone released is dopamine. This hormone is a neurotransmitter that activates pleasure centers in certain parts of your brain, ultimately making you feel happy.
So when statistics claim that 90% of Americans consume caffeine daily, and more than half of American Adults consume more than 300 milligrams (mg) daily, you can understand the why factor for the appeal of caffeine. Not only does caffeine essentially make you feel alert by blocking adenosine reception, but it also injects hormones such as adrenaline and dopamine into your system, making you feel boosted and happy.